Premarital Mediation consists of conversations intended to support your marriage. Rather than thinking that a premarital agreement (“pre-nup”) will doom your marriage to divorce, why not consider Ben Franklin’s wisdom: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?”
Premarital mediation conversations are particularly valuable for second or subsequent marriages. However, it is also true that not everyone needs a written premarital agreement. Sometimes just having the conversation is enough.
While it is certainly true that considering the consequences of divorce when you are planning your wedding is not romantic, there are many topics you may include in your conversations that will support your married life. Planning for the needs of children or grandchildren may be at the top of your list. Planning for the financial or entrepreneurial aspects of marriage is important. What joint enterprises (house, savings, travel, business, etc.) will you have as a married couple? Is there a significant difference in what each party brings to the marriage in terms of assets, liabilities, income, and debts? What about family businesses, gifts, or inheritances? Will everything be community property? Will some assets remain separate? What about increases in value of separate property, such as a residence, during the marriage? What about tolerance for risk, or tolerance for debt? Will you feel comfortable signing joint tax returns, or would you prefer “married, filing separately?” How do you want to distribute property upon death or divorce? Are there aging parents to consider? What about expectations for retirement? What else is important to you?
You may already know precisely what you want to cover in your premarital mediation. That is great, but chances are good that there are additional topics pertaining to your situation that are worth considering. You can choose topics or options that best speak to your condition. If you don’t even know what options to consider (most people don’t), resources and referral lists will be provided.
Should you have a lawyer review your premarital agreement? The answer is a resounding YES. Each of you must have independent legal counsel if you are going to have a written agreement. However, you and your intended spouse may decide first what is important for your marriage, given your circumstances and concerns. Starting with an agreement drafted by an attorney for only one party can be a lopsided ticket to disaster. The whole point is to make this a joint effort to support your life together. Once the two of you decide on your priorities, then an attorney can give effect to your cooperatively-developed plans.
It is imperative that you allow yourselves enough time to carefully consider what you want to include in your agreement. Starting to negotiate while the florist is measuring for flowers is much too late. It is prudent to start four to six months before the wedding, and plan for completion at least three months before the wedding.
The first conversation will last about ninety minutes; the fee is $250. Fees for additional sessions will be fixed when the sessions are scheduled. Since supporting marriage through premarital mediation resonates with my personal values, fees for marital mediation are less than for divorce mediation. If you ever have any question about fees, you are encouraged to contact me with your questions.